OK - the Honduras narco-trafficking trial of US v. Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez is beginning. Inner City Press has reported all of the run-up, including CC-4/JOH, has repeatedly asked the UN about SG @antonioguterres' support of JOH, & will live tweet, thread below ImageImageImageImage
Judge Castel has taken the bench, says to bring the jurors. Geovanny Fuentes is sitting at the defense table, with two U.S. Marshals citing six feet behind him. The prosecutors are the table in front, closest to the judge.
Judge Castel says the open arguments will begin in approximately 15 minutes. It is slower than usual, moving jurors around the courthouse given Covid protocols. There is a plexiglass booth for which ever lawyer is questioning, and another box for the witness.
As we wait, Geovanny Fuentes' two lawyers are whispering, then laughing, with each other. Geovanny puts on big headphones, preparing to listen to Spanish simultaneous interpretation of the opening arguments.
The jurors have come in. Judge Castel apologizes to them saying, In pre-COVID times we would all have stood up to greet you. But we have been told to reduce movements in the courtroom.
Judge Castel: "Juror Number Five is excused. She is going to see her doctor."
Note: in the other trial Inner City Press is covering, about #Wirecard, 1 of the jurors tested positive for COVID last week. Jurors are being tested on the way in, and that trial is continuing.
Judge Castel: Defendant is charged with cocaine import, & machine guns
Judge Castel is telling the jurors the rules: Don't talk about the trial, even at home, until the entire trial is over.
Judge Castel: If you send a note to me, don't tell the other jurors what is about - if you do, it may be that the whole jury needs to be dismissed.
And no social media posts about the trial.

This only applies to the jurors : )
Judge Castel: How long does the prosecution want for an opening statement?
Twenty minutes. Defense too. It begins.
Assistant US Attorney: This case is about a violent drug trafficker. He ran a cocaine lab in the mountains of Honduras. He guarded the labs with gun
AUSA: He needed trucks, boats and airplanes to move the cocaine. He bought those he could, and killed those he could not. He was connected with the military and political power in Honduras: mayors, congressmen, "even the current president of Honduras" Image
AUSA: Getting the drugs here requires power, big people, at the highest level of the drug trade. The evidence will show that he started selling kilos in Miami. Each kilos has 8000 doses. Small shipments. Then he moved up to cocaine lab in Honduras
AUSA: He paid armed men to guard his lab. It was raided and he was never prosecuted for it. The officer who participated in that raid, he was kidnapped, he was tortured and he was murdered because he tried to get in defendant's way.
AUSA: But the defendant was not satisfied. He sought out and partnered with largest drug organization in Honduras. He bragged about his lab, his close relations with those in power, and his armed guards. He was successful. Thousands of kilos into the US
AUSA: He partnered directly with a candidate, now the president of Honduras. You'll learn about secret meetings the defendant had with the president in 2013 and 2014, to send as much cocaine as possible to the US. He gave the president $25,000 & access to his lab
AUSA: In exchange, the President made the defendant bullet proof, shielded him from prosecution with the held of the Attorney General. The defendant would team up with the president's brother, then a major drug dealer.
[Tony Hernandez is now in the jail next door]
AUSA: The defendant was a key part of "the Honduran narco-state... He worked with the now president.... He helped the president traffic cocaine."
[The US is going strong against Juan Orlando Hernandez. Where is this going? Stories, podcast and #Periscope later]
AUSA: The defendant was untouchable in Honduras, but he was not in the US. He was arrested in 2020 in the airport in Miami. In his post arrest interview, you'll hear how he got the land for his lab. Lionel Rivera will testify how he worked with the defendant.
AUSA: Rivera will describe defendant's involvement in torture in murder. Lionel Rivera has admitted to his role in 78 murders, and 15 attempted murders.
You'll hear from an accountant, Jose Sanchez. He worked for a business in Honduras used to launder drug money
AUSA: Jose Sanchez will tell you about the defendant's meetings with the president. The fear, he felt when he saw the defendant sitting with the president, that after they partnered, the president said they would "shove the drugs up the noses of the gringos."
AUSA: You'll learned what was on the defendant's phone when he was arrested: photos of guns. Stacks of cash. At the end, we'll speak again. Until then, please do 3 things: pay attention, follow instructions on the law, and use your common sense. He is guilty.
Defense lawyer Eylan Schulman: The testimony of cooperators will make you ask how our government could work with these people. The burden of proof is with the government. Its case is dependent on self-interested witnesses with too much to gain & too little to lose
Defense lawyer: These witnesses want to avoid return to the dangers of Honduras. At the end of the trial, after the cross-examinations, I am confident you will conclude that Geovanny is not guilty of the crimes charged.
Honduras exports coffee, bananas, palm oil
Defense lawyer: The US works with Honduras on immigration. Juan Orlando Hernandez --
AUSA: Objection.
Judge Castel: Overruled. This is not evidence, this is argument.
Defense: President Hernandez agreed to extradite those who violate the law.
Defense lawyer: The government's star witness, a mass murder, approached the US to make a deal. Here is Geovanny. He is 51. He has four children.
Defense lawyer: He has three sons from a prior marriage, and a 5 year old girl with his current wife of six years.
Judge Castel: This will come out at trial?
Defense lawyer: I expect it to. His machine guns were licensed. He had body guards, sure
Defense lawyer: Geovanny's mentor Fuad made contribution the president, sure. They had a rice business. Geovanny's son Geovanny married the niece of the government's star witness, Devis Lionel Rivera. Just because Geovanny knew them, so what
Defense lawyer: Let's talk about Los Cachiros. Leo Rivera will says Geovanny helped. But they are only related by marriage. Family means nothing to this murder. Among his 78 victims were members of his own family. He's a liar.
Defense lawyer: Leo Rivera killed his sister in law in Canada. & his own brother in law. An innocent female medical doctor. A Honduran judge who was a political opponent of 1 of his lovers. Journalists who dared write stories. This murder should face life in jail
Defense lawyer: This murdered will say anything to get that cooperator's letter.
Another witness is an accountant for a Honduran rice company. Supposedly you can bribe the president of Honduras for $25,000. But the accountant has an asylum application pending
Defense lawyer: This accountant has even asked the US government to pay for his immigration attorney and his travel expenses. You will not see connected to Giovanny photos of drugs, or his initials stamped on drugs.
[Echo of Tony Hernandez]
Defense lawyer: The government will show you images of drugs and money downloaded from Geovanny's and his son's phones. This is an era of social media. They have no idea where the photos came from. Finally, pay attention to the inference the US asks you to draw
Defense lawyer: They'll show you chats and ask you to conclude he's a drug dealer. They'll make a big deal of his friends in law enforcement. Since when is that a crime? Notice the way the witnesses' demeanor changes under cross examination.
Defense lawyer: Go beyond the name-dropping, that he knows this government official. You will have doubts. Geovanny has been waiting for justice. That will mean a verdict of not guilty.
Judge Castel: Thank you. Does the jury need a break?
Yes. Watch this feed.
OK - first witness is not a high profile cooperator, but DEA Agent Fairbanks who arrested Geovanny. Inner City Press is following and writing a story. Here's one, shareable email @SubstackInc, on the US Government's opening and JOH matthewrussellleeicp.substack.com/p/in-honduras-…
Geovanny Fuentes' lawyers have objected to exhibits the US is trying to get admitted into evidence. Judge Castel is considering it
OK - among the exhibits coming in, DEA agent is identifying and describing photo of Geovanny's brother with a pile of cash. And now "bundles of US currency."
AUSA: Agent Fairbanks, is this from the iCloud account? What is it?
Fairbanks: A firearm with an extended magazine. It appears to be a in bar --
Judge Castel: When you say that you can't tell, are you guessing?
Fairbanks: I'm using the leather seat and console
AUSA: And is there any kind of insignia on the magazine?
Fairbanks: Yes. It says United States Navy. Here are two AR-15 style rifles and a gun case.
Judge Castel calls the lunch break. Thread will continue. For now: matthewrussellleeicp.substack.com/p/in-honduras-…
Update, an hour and 20 minutes later: it's said "there's a problem with the lunches" (for the jurors, from the Court cafeteria - apparently another jury came first). Podcast about opening(s) coming
OK - finally the #NarcosHonduras jury is back from long / delayed lunch.
AUSA: Agent Fairbanks, what is this photo?
Fairbanks: US currency, bundled in someone's lap. From the iCloud account.
AUSA: And what is this photo:
DEA Agent Fairbanks: It appears to be Juan Orlando Hernandez and two of Geovanny's son... Mr. Fuentes Ramirez' sons, I mean. I'm sorry.
AUSA: And this Instagram photo?
Fairbanks: It's the defendants son on a boat. This one is Mr. Fuentes, surrounded by his three son and a man whose face is covered by an emoji.
AUSA: And this Instagram photo?
Fairbanks: One of Mr. Fuentes son has a ballcap on, with decorative insignia, with what looks like POLICIA on the front of the cap.
AUSA: And this Instagram photo?
Fairbanks: Greenery and a sign, Chaloma. It's a place.
AUSA: Is that near San Pedro Sula?
Fairbanks: I'm not sure.
AUSA: And this photo?
Fairbanks: It says, "Sales are looking so bad." It's a photo of US corruption, in 100s and 20s.
AUSA: And this photo?
Fairbanks: More cash.
Defense: Subject to the same objection.
Judge Castel: Proceed.
AUSA: And this photo? Cash and what does it say?
Fairbanks: It says, Sunday Fun-day, happy Fun-day, Pay-day.
AUSA: And this one?
Fairbanks: It's a gold handgun. Golden color.
AUSA: What has been pasted on the photo?
Fairbanks: "Love at first sight."
AUSA: What does it say on the gun?
Fairbanks: Compatible with M-4.
AUSA: And this photo?
Fairbanks: Geovanny Gutierres, his son.
AUSA: Are you familiar with his cultural reference?
Fairbanks: It's from the movie Scarface.
Fairbanks: It says, All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don't break them for no one.
AUSA: And this photo?
Fairbanks: It's a firing range. There are spend rounds and an ammo box.
They play a video with music.
AUSA: What's shown in that video?
Fairbanks: An AR-15 rifle, it moves around as he drives.
AUSA: And this Instagram?
Fairbanks: Man in a car with a pistol, and an AR-15 rifle in the leg well. Pasted on, three frog or toad emojis.
Defense lawyer: I object. They are offering a translation but none is needed. There are now words to translate.
Judge Castel: I agree.
AUSA: What does frog emoji mean?
Fairbanks: It means, Snitch.
AUSA: Who is that?
Fairbanks: Ramon Martinez Hernandez and one of Geovanny Fuentes' son. It was in defendant's phone. And I've seen two of his LinkedIn profiles.
AUSA: And this photo?
Fairbanks: It's him in a UN course, United Nations, for police observers.
[As with the UN inviting JOH on March 6 to an "anti-crime" event, 1 of the narcos shown in this trial was TRAINED BY THE UN - and yet UN won't answer Inner City Press Image
AUSA: What does Geovanny F text?
Fairbanks: He asks, Do you still have that code to do the erasing? Send it. So I can check my phone.
it says, **002** to untap the calls. Then an emoji of laughing so hard, there are tears.
AUSA: What did Comisionado Martinez refer to?
Fairbanks: How people in Cortez were killed.
[Note: Comisionado Martinez was UN-trained.]
After a sidebar, Judge Castel returns with a joke: Ladies and gentlemen, those lunch menus are not evidence.
Then: There are three participants in a conversation. One of them, you are not to take for the truth of what he said.
AUSA: Now to the voice notes
AUSA: What does Mr Zunica say?
Fairbanks: This is getting ugly, brother. The other says, Yes, the sh*t is getting ugly. We should go drinking tomorrow.
AUSA: Next page. After Comanche, defendant says, "They have wanted to f*ck me up like 50 times, Comanche."
AUSA: And next?
Fairbanks: July 11, 2019, a male person dead in a violent manner, firearm. It's about finding four people that were dead, by shooting. The perpetrators were dressed in anti-gang uniforms. It mentions officer Jason Quintanilla & driver Alex Herrera
AUSA: No further questions, your Honor.
Judge Castel: Suit up, Garrett, if you will. [Law clerk to clean down the microphone and lawyer's booth. Cross examination to come today?]
Yes - cross examination begins.
Defense lawyer: Are you aware, sir, that one can have a gun legally in Florida?
Fairbanks: Yes.
Defense lawyer: And his son, I'll call him Geo, did you look to see if he owned them legally?
Fairbanks: No, sir.
Defense lawyer: Let's take the photos from Mr. Fuentes' phone. Do you know if they were taken on his phone, or came in as messages?
Fairbanks: There are some distinctions.
Defense lawyer: But you know know, as we're sitting here, if they were sent to him.
[last question should be, "You DON'T know, as we sit here."]
Defense: You don't know if the photos were taken in Honduras, or in Florida, or elsewhere?
Fairbanks: right.
Defense: And it is not illegal to have photos of guns on your phone, is it?
Fairbanks: No sir.
Defense: The guns depicted, do you know whose they are?
Fairbanks: No sir.
Defense: So all we know is that there are pictures of guns.
Fairbanks: Lots of a pictures of guns.
Defense: And nothing wrong with that, right?
Defense: This message, did you listen to them?
Fairbanks: I can't listen, sir. It's a picture.
Defense: You don't know who's holding the gun.
Fairbanks: Well, you see the watch. And it matches the watch we took from Mr. Fuentes.
Defense: Christian, the defendant's brother, he's a politians, right?
Fairbanks: He's running for some office.
Defense: And you have a picture of him with the president?
Fairbanks: President Juan Orlando, yes. It was at Juan Orlando's birthday party.
Defense: The president posted this photo, didn't he?
Fairbanks: I don't know. I didn't find that photo there, not the one on his phone.
Defense: Since son Geo is married to the daughter of Javier Rivera, right, and they have kids?
Fairbanks: That, I don't know.
Defense: You said one of the photos was from a shooting range.
Fairbanks: Looks like one.
Defense: And gun ranges are legal in the US, right?
Fairbanks: I'm not sure if in all parts.
Defense: Do you know the exchange rate between lempiras and the US Dollar?
DEA Agent Fairbanks: No, that I don't know.
Defense: The money in Christian Fuentes' hands, it was red, right? And we don't have red money in the USA, right?
Fairbanks: That we don't.
Defense: Your Honor I have a bit more, but I'd like to break.
Judge Castel: OK, we'll break. Ladies and gentlemen, do not talk about the case or do your own research. Please stay healthy. We hope to have a report on the juror who is not with us.
Judge Castel tells the prosecutors not to talk to Agent Fairbanks about his direct or cross examination. The day is over. The US Marshals are waiting to take Geovanny Fuentes back to jail. Stories soon on InnerCityPress and patreon.com/MatthewRussell…

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